Why we need an ugly Paris

When you walk into a poor area of town, you will notice straight away that it is ugly. But why? Surely nobody wants to live in an ugly area, so why should it be that way? This question may seem so easy to answer that you might consider it rhetorical. A poor area is ugly because the residents do not have enough money for its upkeep, so it will be subject to the natural decay and fall into ugliness. As simple as this sounds, so does the reply. Why does the city not help with the upkeep of less fortunate neighbourhoods? After all, some paint, planting trees and flowers is not that expensive. And this is where it becomes strange: they can not do it and it is not because of the money.

If the city pays for the maintenance of an area, beautifying it, the area will become attractive to gentrification. The new arrivals bring along new demands for a certain type of shop, schools and so forth. The people who used to live there will be slowly chased out by the increasing cost of rent. So implicitly, by trying to make people’s lives more pleasant, the municipality will have chased them out of their neighbourhoods.

Some kind of middle way can of course be found to balance out the possibility of housing everyone, but it does imply that a municipality has to be sparse in its brushing up of an area and embrace ugliness. A peculiar price to pay to keep the city diverse.


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